Port, Grafton may leave conference

Football-only realignment sends Port north and Grafton south; Big East would return to eight teams
By 
MITCH MAERSCH
Ozaukee Press staff

The proposed football-only conference realignment plan has been tweaked since its initial release in July, but Port Washington and Grafton’s destinations remain the same.

The plan would take effect in 2020 and move Port Washington and Grafton out of the North Shore into separate conferences.

The plan was concocted by an ad hoc committee of WIAA executive staff members and the Wisconsin Football Coaches Association Executive Board to address input from members schools.
Issues schools have brought up regarding football include a disparity in the number of conference games for playoff qualification, difficulties in scheduling nonconference games, school enrollment, competitive disparities in conferences, co-op program formations, an eight-player football tournament and programs dropping varsity schedules due to low participation, according to a statement from the WIAA.

The new plan’s design is to put all 11-player football programs into conferences with seven, eight or nine teams.

Port Washington would move to the East Central Conference with all of its opponents to the north.

With 767 students, Port would be the second largest school of the eight-team league. Plymouth has 784. Kettle Moraine Lutheran replaced Winneconne since July and is the smallest with 450.

The conference includes Berlin, 67 miles and a 97-minute drive away from Port High, and Ripon (75 miles, 87 minutes).

Grafton faces less travel than Port with a proposed move to the Woodland East Conference. Most schools are about 25 to 35 minutes to the south.

School sizes range from 1,378 to 721 students. Grafton, with 745, would still be on the small side but closer to its foes than the teams it currently faces in the North Shore Conference, eight of which eclipse 1,000 students.

If the proposal goes through, the Pirates and Black Hawks would lose 10-minute drives to games and the rivalries with each other and Cedarburg.

But Port and Grafton would be in eight-team conferences, unlike the 10-team North Shore. That allows for two nonconference games.

The Big East Conference, which includes Cedar Grove-Belgium and Ozaukee, would drop from nine to eight teams. Mishicot would move to the small school league of the M-O/Northern Lakes/Packerland Conference.

The WIAA Board of Control is expected to discuss the proposal at its March 1 meeting.

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Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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